breakup

“Staring at empty pages, Centered ’round the same old plot, Staring at empty pages, Flowing along the ages”

-Traffic, Empty Pages

I’m breaking up with you. This isn’t easy for me. You’ve been a part of my life for so many years, most of my adult life. But the thing is- you’ve changed. You’re not who you used to be. You used to be cool. Smart. You used to have good taste in music. I don’t know why you changed, but it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to cancel my subscription.

I’m breaking up with you, Rolling Stone. I have been trying to make it work. I’ve been looking the other way, living in denial for a while now. I can’t do it any more. The disappointment runs too deep, I’ve lost too much respect. It didn’t have to turn out like this. I always loved you. Growing up I used to dream about my words gracing your pages. You were all about rock, you were  journalism. You were  political, you were edgy.  You were nearly perfect. Then things started to change. The turning point was in ’99.  I told my self that it was just a one time thing.  A little slip. Brittney Spears on the cover? The same place that had been inhabited by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Stones? This is the company she’s sharing? It seemed like sacrilege to me, but I tried to just focus on the articles, the music reviews. It was just one mistake.

But it wasn’t just once.

Remember Jimi Hendrix coaxing flames out of his guitar? Remember a naked John curled up next to Yoko? Remember David Bowie with the tinted sunglasses and cigarette dangling form his lips? Remember Janis with feathers in her hair? Nirvana all cleaned up in suits and ties? Fleetwood Mac sprawled out on a mattress? The fact that I could literally go on for pages is the very reason I’m so disappointed right now. Those covers were iconic, they were art. Now, we see covers like Taylor Lautner, Snooki,  Zac Effron, Jessica Simpson, Justin Bieber. What happened to your judgement on talent?  I am thinking you got seduced by revenues, you must have heard that teens were the money making demographic. So you sold your soul for some market share. You’re making a fool of yourself. And you’re making fools of all of us who have supported you all these years. I shouldn’t have to be embarrassed to read you in public.

Last month, I opened my mailbox to see Miley Cyrus leering at me. With her tongue sticking out. Really? I’m not jumping into the Miley hate-circus. I really could care less about her ass and what it did or didn’t do on MTV, or about her tongue. But could you have been more predictable? That was the most disturbing part of that cover. How much thought went in to that? You could have done a Miley Cyrus cover that was interesting, unexpected. Or you could have left her off completely and put someone more talented on the cover. It was a shameless attempt to be provocative but it was just boring and lame.

But it’s not just the covers. If it was just the covers I could probably get past that. I’m not all about looks. It’s what’s on the inside that matters. That is why the final betrayal cuts so deep. What sent me over the edge was the recent album reviews. Miley’s album got 3.5 stars. Wanna know who else got 3.5 stars recently?  Sleigh Bells, Justin Timberlake, Kings Of Leon, Sheryl Crow, Haim, Cage the Elephant- what???, Pearl Jam – no, you’re joking, right?, Arctic Monkeys – WHAT???  Knife in the heart….  I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for this kind of crazy. I don’t know if you’ve been sniffing too much ink over there, but I have no patience or tolerance for this kind of goofiness. I mean, the new Arctic Monkeys album is by far the best new album of the year…  Maybe Miley slipped you some Molly or maybe her new Rolling Stone tattoo has you smitten in some weird, juvenile “I’ve got a crush on the bad boy that sits in the back of the school bus, then a few years later you look at him in pity when he drops out of 10th grade” kind of way. All I know is you will one day look back at that review and cringe. You will try to hide it, you’ll hope everyone else forgets it. But I won’t. I won’t ever be able to trust your reviews any more. I won’t eagerly log on to Spotify to check out the new band you’re raving about. I won’t waste my time any more.

What makes all this so hard is I still think you’re smart. And being smart is probably the sexiest thing there is. And you still make me laugh. Being funny is also the sexiest thing there is. You still have great band interviews. You have thought provoking articles about politics and current events.  And you had your recent annual Hot List…  you can be so funny some times:  “Hot put two bullets in it:  MTV”, “Hot pretty fly for a white guy:  the new Pope”, “Hot Color Me Badd:  Robin Thicke”, “Hot stick to novels, buddy:  Jonathan Franzan”, “Hot it didn’t take:  Chris Christie’s Lap-Band”… you know I love inappropriate humor!  It’s the best kind!  I mean, maybe you still have some redeeming qualities… Maybe we can make this work.  Maybe… if you can ditch the teeny boppers and get back to the artists and the real rebels.

There’s still time to turn things around. If you get back to who you used to be, stop going for the cheap, easy thrills. Remember who really loves you. People like my Uncle Woody who’s saved every copy of you since you began. The “Beilebers” and “Twi-hards” are not going to be there for you in ten years. Those kids have the attention span of a gnat and will remember you as a brief fling from their youth. Those of us who’ve been here for you all these years, we may be a little older now, we may not be young and hip any more, but we are the ones that will actually appreciate you. We’ll read all the articles. Even the long confusing Matt Taibbi articles about the financial crisis. We won’t just skip to the celebrity interviews. So if you want someone who really appreciates everything about you, you’ll come back to us, you’ll remind us of how good you can be when you stay true to your roots.

And here’s the thing, if you do this, you will still be attractive to the younger demographic. Those that actually have good taste in music. They’ll start appreciating you too. Maybe when they hit the college years, they’ll realize how great you are and they’ll start buying you. My teen age son already appreciates you. He sometimes grabs you and reads you before I get a chance to. But sometimes, he laughs at you. He laughed at the Miley cover. He rolled his eyes at the Justin Bieber cover. He’s the kind of young kid that could become a loyal subscriber. But not if you keep going down the path you’re on right now.

So, please think about that before you put another no-talent, here-today-gone-today celebrity on your cover. Think about my uncle and his collection. Think about the years he has saved every single issue, 46 years worth. Think about the young kids that need to learn about good music and good journalism. Think about why you started this thing to begin with. Remember the guy you put on your first cover? He was a pretty good song writer. His lyrics are timeless and relevant even today. One song comes to mind, a song he wrote with his buddy Paul, called “Get Back”. “Get back to where you once belonged”….

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind…”

-MS MR, Hurricane

If you frequent Alt Nation on Sirius Radio, you’ve probably heard this haunting tune.  This NY based duo (Max Hershenow and Lizzy Plapinger)  originally released Hurricane as a single in July 2012, then included it on their debut Album on May 13, 2013.

Ominous music layered with a funky drum and Paplinger’s ethereal voice, this song is dark and catchy all at once.  While the music does it’s job of setting the mood, it’s really all about the voice.  Clarity infused with the slightest huskiness, her voice is a contradiction.  Sit back and relax while listening to this one.  Absorb the depth within the lyrics while the voice cuts right through you…  enjoy….

2013Albumsof201318.pmvh_arcticmonkeys020

“I guess what I’m trying to say is I need the deep-end, keep imagining meeting, wished away entire lifetimes, unfair we’re not somewhere misbehaving for days” -R U Mine, Arctic Monkeys

Bad. Ass.  Sums it up, the new Arctic Monkeys album released last week.  I was expecting to be non-plussed.  I just couldn’t get into the earlier songs by the best selling debut artist in British Music History.  They weren’t my cup of tea (lame british reference).  I decided to give it a listen since they will be playing the Midtown Music Festival and I am humming with excitement about going.

The first song I listened to was “Do I Wanna Know”.  I’m hit with a marching drum beat, a guitar sludging out a haunting melody.  “Have you got colour in your cheeks?”  Hmmm….    Let me just say I’m a sucker for a hard drum, a gritty guitar, and a british accent.  This song can’t be listened to loud enough.    Taunting and desperate at the same time, “Have you no idea that you’re in deep”,  “Crawling back to you, ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?  Cause I always do…”  desperation never carried such swagger.

“Arabella” has a 70’s rock vibe.  The chorus has some Jimmy Page – Robert Plant style back and forth that makes you sit up and take notice. “My days end best when the sunset gets itself behind/ That little lady sitting on the passenger side/ It’s much less picturesque without her catching the light/ The horizon tries but it’s just not as kind on the eyes.”  It’s a kaleidoscope of words and music that comes together in an unexpected way.

“No. 1 Party Anthem” offers a departure.  I can’t help but picture a bubble haired girl leaning her head against some guy’s chest as they sway, popping bubble gum  in melancholy unison.  A doo-wop style song about the last ditch hook-up before the club lights come on.   An ironic song, it still comes across as heart-felt.

“Knee Socks” immediately brings to mind David Bowie’s “China Girl”, yet somehow shedding the cheesiness that you would think would accompany such a comparison.  The traipse through a rainy afternoon frolic ” Well you cured my January blues, yeah you made it all right, I got a feeling I might’ve lit the very fuse you were trying not to light” eventually evolves from China Girl to Ziggy Stardust with a delicate layering of ethereal crooning over a jaunty chorus.  The unexpected is welcome.

I couldn’t help but include “R U Mine”, not technically on the new album, but released as a teaser,  a prelude perhaps, and a song I can’t get enough of.  A little slicker than “Do I Wanna Know”, but heavy hitting all the same.  Fueled with desire and angst, it is driven by lyrics that come like a barrage of bullets.  The music tries to keep up with the fierce urgency of the ultimate question, “And the thrill of the chase moves in mysterious ways, so in case I’m mistaken, I just want to hear you say you got me baby, are you mine?”

This album had me with the first pounding drum beat, but as I listened and heard the fervor that accompany’d the narration, I was hooked.  Lyrics often get lost or overshadowed by the music, not here.  The sheer talent to bring together music and words in equal standing…  that’s the bliss point.